Thus far in your research, you will have focused on which schools are the best match for you. Now, before you begin the hard work of applying, you need to be realistic about whether or not you are going to be a great match for them. The last step in selecting the schools you will apply to is to consider the competitiveness of your candidacy versus the acceptance rates of the schools on your short list.
In the table below, we have published the acceptance rates of Poets & Quants’s top 20 full-time MBA programs in 2017, calculated by dividing the total number of applicants into the number of applicants admitted.
Source: https://poetsandquants.com/2018/02/19/acceptance-rates-at-the-pq-top-50-mba-programs/3 (2017)
Figure 17: Acceptance Rates of Select MBA Programs
You must balance the need to be realistic without becoming your own admissions officer. Some schools may be a reach for you but still within reach. There is only one way to find out for sure and that is to send them your application.
Four final pieces of advice on school selection:
- Don’t apply to a school that you wouldn’t be excited to attend.
- Apply to at least one of your “dream” schools no matter what.
- If you have some significant “dings” in your profile, balance each “high risk” school in your portfolio with schools with less stringent entrance requirements.
- Apply to three or four schools per round, if you can, to increase your chances of being accepted. Applying to more than four in a single round is not advised because you will be spreading your efforts too thinly.
Exercise: Review Your Ding Diagnostic
To select schools that match your qualifications, you need to review the results of the Ding Diagnostic exercise you completed in Unit 1.5. If you have a number of potential “dings” in your application that you have not been able to correct as part of your action plan for strengthening your candidacy, then you need to target schools with higher acceptance rates.
Unit Review: Select the Schools that Match Your Qualifications
- Be realistic about your qualifications, but avoid becoming your own admissions officer.
- The number and degree of “dings” in your candidacy is directly proportional to the acceptance rates of the schools you should apply to.
- You should always apply to at least one “dream” school.
- Don’t apply to any schools you wouldn’t be excited to attend.
- Balance “reach” schools on your target list with schools that match your qualifications.
- Applying to 3-4 schools in a single round is ideal.